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Flannel Bush
Fremontodendron californicum
About Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron californicum) Nurseries Show All Photos Fremontodendron californicum, or California Flannelbush is one of the most spectacular of the native California shrubs. It is a fast growing evergreen shrub with fuzzy, flannel-like leaves and abundant, large yellow blossoms that bloom in the spring. Under ideal conditions, it can reach 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide in five years. Its geographic range is primarily in the foothills surrounding the Central Valley, the hills of the Central Coast and San Francisco Bay Area, and in the mountains of the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges. It typically grows in sandy washes near seasonal creeks, or in chalky well-drained mountain hillsides that get plenty of rainfall.

For best results in landscaping applications, simulate California Flannelbush's natural environment by planting in a sunny spot, in well-draining sandy soil, about 10 feet from a creek or irrigated area or other moist area. If your soil is not naturally sandy, you can amend or replace the dirt around the plant with sand and get good results too. This plant is one of the most intolerant of all California natives to summer watering. After its first year, even indirectly watering this plant within a few feet of its trunk in the summer will usually kill it. On the other hand, if its long roots cannot reach out to a water source or moist area, it will often die during the warm summer months from lack of water. So site selection is extremely important for growing this plant. Hairs covering the leaves can irritate skin and eyes, and get caught in clothing if brushed, so best to keep this large plant away from walkways.

California Flannelbush is commonly available in nurseries. Popular hybrids of this plant and other Flannel Bush species include California Glory Flannel Bush, and Ken Taylor Flannel Bush.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
6 - 20 ft (1.8 - 6.1 m)

Max. Width
20 ft (6.1 m)

Upright, Mounding, Rounded, Spreading, Upright Columnar

None, Slight

Growth Rate
Fast, Moderate


Flower Color
Yellow, Orange

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry sandy washes or fast draining rocky or chalky hill sides. Near the coast it is found in chaparral. In inland mountains it may be found as part of ponderosa (yellow pine) woodland. In more arid high desert areas it may occur with pinyon/juniper woodland.


Elevation ?
43' - 10807'

Annual Precip. ?
5.8" - 67.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 2.68"

Coldest Month ?
28.2° F - 55.0° F

Hottest Month ?
49.8° F - 83.5° F

Humidity ?
0.46 vpd - 34.30 vpd

Soil Description
Sandy, gravelly, rocky or chalky, very well draining soils..

Soil Texture
Loamy Sand, Sand, Sandy Loam

Soil PH
6 - 8

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Serpentine Soil


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
4, 5, 6, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10, 11, 12, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
California Sycamore, Blue Elderberry, Oak, Manzanita species

Wildlife Attracted
Bees, butterflies

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Very Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Avoid hard pruning. Cutting into the wood will often kill this plant..

Pest Control
Few problems with pests.

Propagation ?
Seeds normally require fire to germinate in nature, but can also be germinated by soaking in boiling hot water then refrigerating for 3 months before planting.

Common uses
Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Fremontodendron californicum ssp. californicum;Fremontodendron californicum ssp. napensis;Fremontodendron californicum ssp. californicum;Fremontodendron californicum ssp. napensis,Fremontodendron californicum ssp. californicum

Common Names
California Flannelbush

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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